After a meteoric climb to political prominence, libertarian economist and TV pundit Javier Milei was inaugurated as president of Argentina on Sunday. With an anti-socialist and small-government platform, Milei founded his political party, Liberty Advances, in 2021 and secured its first representation in the Argentine Congress. In becoming the first libertarian president of the country, he toppled the long-serving leftist Peronist elite and the long-standing “center-right” alliance that had dominated the opposition for over twenty years.
Milei defeated Sergio Massa, Argentina’s socialist former economy minister and current president, in the presidential election on November 19. Massa’s administration oversaw a historic economic crisis that caused triple-digit inflation, skyrocketing poverty rates, high unemployment, and the flight of talented young people. By reversing course on contentious issues, including gun control, he accused Massa of waging a “campaign of terror.” Milei promised in his last campaign commercial that he would not privatize public schools or hospitals.
Angry Argentines could not help but listen to Milei’s rhetoric, which compelled them to choose between the two options presented as the least awful.
Several prominent world leaders were present at the inauguration ceremony, such as Luis Lacalle Pou, president of Uruguay, Jair Bolsonaro, prime minister of Hungary, Vahagn Khachaturyan, and the newly elected president of Ecuador. Among the presidents in attendance was Gabriel Boric of Chile, a prominent and well-known figure.
In a departure from custom, Milei gave his inaugural address outdoors, in front of the thousands of people who had gathered to celebrate the start of his presidency. The Kirchnerist group that ruled Argentina for most of the last 20 years—including his predecessor Alberto Fernández, Fernández de Kirchner, and himself—were roundly denounced in his first presidential address.